Moving to Wilmington NC: 4 Tips to Discover the City

Recently North Carolina has become a desirable destination to movers, and while many may flock to the larger cities of Raleigh and Charlotte, that is not to say Wilmington NC holds no appeal. Fittingly nicknamed the “Port City” due to the city’s significance as a source of trade along the Atlantic, Wilmington NC is the ideal destination for any sea-lover or retiree looking to make a quiet and restful home along the East Coast. Residents within the area enjoy an abundance of renowned restaurants offering the freshest of sea food, along with all of the activities and amenities associated with a coastal lifestyle. Considering moving to Wilmington NC this summer? Read Street Smart Storage’s definitive city-guide to learn more of Wilmington NC today!

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Explore the Economy

Quick Facts

Population: 123,744

Median Home Value: $246,400

Median Gross Rent: $998

Median Household Income: $48,000

Economy Overview

Wilmington is a port city, located on the Cape Fear river which flows into the Atlantic Ocean, and consequently, a large portion of the city’s business is built off of tourism and port trade. Notably, the North Carolina State Ports Authority runs its headquarters out of Wilmington, with this establishment being responsible for a sizable portion of Wilmington’s economy.

Overall, the Port Authority is run as a business, and as such, the NCSPA states its mission is to focus on the requirements of its customers and to enhance the economy of the State of North Carolina. The Port focuses on self-sustaining operations, environmental stewardship, a highly efficient workforce, and modern, well-maintained facilities and equipment. As a result of these efforts, the ports support more than 87,700 jobs across North Carolina, and is reported to contribute $687 million in local and state sales, property, corporate and personal taxes annually. Indeed, North Carolina’s ports, both the Port of Wilmington and the Port of Morehead City, contributed $15.4 billion annually to the state’s economy in 2018, a figure that makes up a large portion of North Carolina’s overall economic output.

Moving forward, the port will continue to be a dominant economic force in North Carolina, as North Carolina Ports move forward with a $200 million investment in infrastructure improvements that will include new cranes, an enhanced berth, and a wider turning basin to further improve operational efficiencies.

As previously mentioned, tourism also accounts for a significant portion of Wilmington’s economy, and this revenue is largely generated due to Wilmington’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, and its subsequent access to a number of popular beach destinations. In a recent study titled the “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2019” the U.S. Travel Association noted the following impactful statistics:

  • the travel and tourism industry directly employed more than 6,680 people in Wilmington
  • total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Wilmington was $158 million
  • statewide, visitors to North Carolina set a record for spending in 2019 at $26.7 billion (an increase of 5.6 percent from 2018)

As seen, Wilmington’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean directly dictates much of its economy, and the city’s continuance as a prominent tourist destination and shipping hub should ensure steady economic growth for years to come. This robust thriving and growing economy is one reason you should consider moving to Wilmington NC this summer.

Explore the Coast

Previously mentioned, Wilmington, NC has become a popular tourist retreat largely due to its proximity to a number of popular beaches along the East Coast. As such, any new visitor would be remiss without a visit to Wilmington’s most popular beach – Wrightsville Beach. Located mere 10 minutes from Downtown Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach is home to five miles of wide, pristine, and sandy beaches that feature spectacular views and beautiful crystal blue water year round. Indeed, Wrightsville Beach is perennially named among the Top 10 “South’s Best Beach Towns” by the readers of Southern Living, and due to its excellent break, Wrightsville Beach lays claim as the birthplace of surfing in North Carolina. Here visitors can enjoy watersports like surfing, SCUBA diving, kiteboarding, kayaking and more.

Alternatively, if you would prefer a less active visit, you might want to consider planning your trip during Sea Turtle Nesting Season, a season that lasts from Mid-May through August. Each summer hundreds of Loggerhead Sea Turtles come ashore to nest on North Carolina beaches, laying hundreds of eggs along the shoreline only to return back to sea immediately after. Each nest is made up of as many as 120 eggs roughly the size of a ping-pong ball, with hatching season typically occurring toward the later half of the season. Depending on the season you may be able to attend a public hatching – Be sure to contact organizations such as the Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project for the projected season’s hatching schedule.

Explore the Cuisine

Largely due to its location adjacent to the Atlantic Coast, Wilmington NC is host to a number of excellent restaurants that feature fresh and flavorful seafood dishes year round. Beyond seafood, barbeque has consistently been a staple of the region, with North Carolina highlighting two distinct regional barbeque styles – Lexington Style barbeque (also called Piedmont or Western style), which uses a red sauce, or “dip”, made primarily from tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and vinegar, and Eastern Style barbeque, a whole-hog style of barbeque (the entire pig is cooked) that consists of a vinegar and pepper based marinade without tomatoes. We’ve listed a few of our area favorites below:

  • Jackson’s Big Oak Barbeque – Eastern style barbeque that highlights locally sourced ingredients from area farms that utilize sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices.
  • Fish Bites Seafood Restaurant – Home of the freshest seafood and the only live lobster tank in town, Fish Bites is your destination for fresh seafood entrees such as Stuffed Flounder, Oyster Bombs, and fantastic steamer platters with Crab Legs, Shrimp, Clams, Oysters and more. The restaurant also features a Seafood Market on premise – Choose from a seasonal variety of fresh fish and shellfish wrapped and packaged raw and ready to be grilled at home.
  • Casey’s Buffet – Family owned since 2005, this Wilmington establishment offers a buffet-styled Southern soul food experience meant to mirror the flavors and cooking of owner Larry Casey’s late grandmother’s cooking.
  • Hieronymus Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar – This restaurant specializes in Cape Fear cuisine, and is the mastermind of area commercial fisherman Glenn Hieronymus. Founded in 1980, Hieronymous Seafood Restaurant features local seafood, fresh oysters, and an extensive cocktail menu set in a relaxed and welcoming environment. This Wilmington mainstay was voted “Best Seafood in Wilmington” by Encore Magazine (2009, 2010, 2011), and was nominated for “Best Oysters” in 2015 and 2016.
  • Catch – Catch boasts modern seafood cuisine served alongside vibrant organic produce and herbs, and is the creation of James Beard Finalist for best Southeast Chef, Keith Rhodes. Be sure to make a reservation for this restaurant – Seating is limited, and this establishment is seen as one of Wilmington’s trendiest dining spots.

As seen, Wilmington’s cuisine is but a reflection of its location, and subsequently, the area’s restaurants highlight regional cuisines such as North Carolina barbeque, as well as local and freshly sourced seafood caught from the Atlantic. We’ve listed a few of our favorite spots – Be sure to stop in at one if you are considering moving to Wilmington NC this summer!

Explore the History

Wilmington is a city known for its historical significance, largely due to the city’s prominence as a strategic Port City for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Subsequently, Wilmington’s Historic Downtown and Riverwalk areas feature numerous historic sites, landmarks, parks, and houses that include:

  • Bellamy Mansion – An example of early 1800’s architecture, visitors can tour the exquisitely restored 10,000-square-foot house and recreated grounds boasting one of the few preserved urban slave quarters in the country.
  • Battle Ship North Carolina – Moored across the river from downtown Wilmington, this retired battleship was originally built in 1941, and served throughout much of WWII, up until its retirement and restoration as a Dedicated Historic Landmark in 1961. The memorial seeks to provide homage to the more than 11,000 North Carolinians who died during the war. On board, visitors can experience a self-guided tour that features nine levels of living spaces, mess decks, gun turrets, powder storage and more.
  • Cape Fear Museum of History and Science – Founded in 1898, the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science is the oldest history museum in the state of North Carolina. The museum collects, preserves and interprets objects relating to the history and cultures of the Lower Cape Fear region, and is noted to hold more than 52,000 artifacts relating to various aspects of the Lower Cape Fear region.
  • Airlie Gardens – Airlie Gardens is a 67-acre public garden originally created as a private garden for the Pembroke Jones family in 1886. The name ‘Airlie’ was derived from the Jones’ family home in Scotland, and the garden features thousands of azaleas, camellias, magnolias, palms, and wisteria.

Consider checking the city’s calendar prior to planning your downtown visit – Wilmington holds numerous events such as concerts, speeches, and free historic tours throughout the year making the downtown area a perfect weekend getaway. Wilmington NC’s Historic Downtown area should not be missed if you are moving to Wilmington NC this summer.

Street Smart Storage in Wilmington NC

By now you should recognize that Wilmington, NC has much to offer, from the spectacular beaches and freshly prepared seafood, to the numerous historical landmarks that serve to make up the cultural identity of the region. And now that you’re considering moving to Wilmington NC – What are your next steps?

Look no further than Street Smart Storage for your source of affordable self storage units in Wilmington NC. Street Smart Storage is your first stop for self storage rentals on the east side of North Carolina. Amenities of this location include temperature controlled storage units, drive up storage units, RV and boat storage options, and the convenience of onsite U-haul moving rentals. Stop by today to see why we have been voted “Best Storage Units in Wilmington NC”. We look forward to meeting your storage needs!

Rent storage units in Wilmington NC with Street Smart Storage today!

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Tim Glasow

About the Author: Tim is an SEO Strategist at Storage Asset Management in York, PA. He is a self-storage industry specialist who has written about everything from storage advice and helpful resources to industry trends. In his free time, Tim enjoys sampling craft beer and exploring the local music scene.